Monday, August 2, 2010

Good on Gag Rule

You wouldn't know it from reading the Maine press, but Sen. Collins has had a pretty abysmal record on abortion-related issues over the last eight years or so.

She cast a critical vote for Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, and backed the nominations of other activist, anti-choice judges like Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. But that's not all.

Collins also took the anti-choice position on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a backdoor attempt to undermine Roe. And she refused to join supporters of reproductive freedom in speaking out against a Bush administration rule designed to give health care providers wide latitude to deny services to women on a case by case basis.

Her record was so poor that Planned Parenthood endorsed her challenger in the 2008 election, the first time the organization backed an opponent of a candidate it had previously endorsed.

And then, as if to confirm the fears of pro-choice Mainers, the junior senator had this to say during the recent health care debate:

"If Congress makes the mistake of establishing a new government-owned insurance company, it would need to extend the prohibition [on abortion coverage] to that company because it is using federal funds."
That remark got lost in tumult of the reform debate, but it's a comment worth carefully parsing and mulling over: Here we have a nominally pro-choice pol trying to torpedo the public option by misrepresenting its design (a government-owned "company"?) and adopting the right-wing talking point that a public plan couldn't possibly cover abortion--even though individuals would be paying their own premiums--simply because the plan was administered by a federal agency.

In short, Collins managed to demonstrate bad faith, stealth conservatism and go-for-the-jugular partisanship all in a single sentence.

Good times.

In any event, all of this is by way of introduction to the news that Collins has done something right on the issue of choice for a change:

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of an amendment to permanently repeal...the Global Gag Rule [which] prohibits the US from funding overseas organizations that support abortion in any way--including direct services, counseling, or lobbying activities--even if the groups use their own monies for such activity...

According to Population Action International, the amendment passed on a 19 to11 vote, winning the support of almost all Democrats and two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
It's hard to know how to reconcile the junior senator's various positions on the issue. But anyway, this is a positive development.

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